25 July 2009
Martin fastest in Brickyard practice.
Mark Martin topped the speed charts in practice for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, as NASCAR celebrated Chevy Day with the marque taking top honours on Friday.
Martin, driving the #5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, turned a best lap of 180.643mph on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval to head 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya wasn't far behind, posting a lap of 180.581mph in the #42 Target Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
Montoya, whose car carries a 'retro Target' paint scheme reminiscent of the colours he carried to victory in the 2000 Indy 500, sat atop of the speed chart for much of the second practice session until Martin posted his lap.
"Our run was pretty good," said Montoya, who is currently ninth in Sprint Cup points and on target for a spot in the Chase, "I think we've got a good race car. It ran good in race trim and ran good in qualifying trim but, at the end of the day, for this Target team, it's all about points. If we're smart enough, I think we can make Sunday a very good points race for us. We've got a car close enough to make a run for the pole."
Kasey Kahne was third fastest in the #9 Budweiser Dodge at 180.245mph, with 2003 Allstate 400 winner Kevin Harvick fourth and Reed Sorenson, who won the Brickyard pole in 2007, fifth respectively.
Local Ryan Newman was eighth fastest, while Stewart-Haas Racing team owner Tony Stewart was twelfth, eight spots ahead of main regular season points rival - and four-time Brickyard winner - Jeff Gordon.
Drivers reported that the extensive Goodyear tyre testing that took place at IMS since the 2008 event had paid off, as a rubber 'groove' developed on the track at the beginning of practice and tyre wear proved both 'durable' and 'excellent'.
"The tyres were great," David Stremme said, "I didn't have any worries coming in here. Goodyear has done a great job. The race is going to be fun. Double-file restarts are going to be wild."
Sprint Cup Series qualifying is scheduled for 1010hrs ET on Saturday, with two afternoon practice sessions to follow.
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